On September 27, 2022, the New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, to clinch the American League East for the 20th time in franchise history, and the first time since 2019. Divisional play began in 1969, with the American and National Leagues divided into two divisions: East and West (the Central Divisions were formed in 1994). It wasn't until 1976 that the Yankees won the AL East for the first time, but despite that long wait, the Yankees' 20 division titles are the most in the division's history, with the Boston Red Sox being second with 10, which is half of the total of their hated rivals.
On a personal note, I am very happy with how the Yankees are doing, even after the terrible lull in July and August. What happened in the previous autumn had me very down as a Yankees fan, and actually forced me to rethink how I approach being a Yankees fan. I actually lowered my expectations for the 2022 season, and actually didn't think that the Yankees would take the East, mainly due to how the Tampa Bay Rays had been playing in the last few years--including their 2020 World Series appearance. When the Yankees got off to that great start, I was over the moon, and even when the lull happened, I wasn't really down about it. I didn't like it, but I didn't act like it was the end of the world, because the Yankees still led the division.
The Yankees are winning games left and right again at the right time: September, and it led to the division title. In addition to clinching the AL East, the Yankees also locked up one of the two first-round byes in the American League, with the other going the Houston Astros, who locked in the league's best record on the same day. As a result of that part of the statement, the Yankees will start their quest for their 28th championship in the American League Division Series (starting on October 11), where they will face off against the winner of the Wild Card Series between the Cleveland Guardians and whoever holds the 3rd Wild Card position.
The Yankees' division title actually served as a secondary story to a historic quest among the team. Aaron Judge is knocking on the door of a 61-year-old American League record: Roger Maris' home run total. Judge's 2022 season has been very interesting, as it started with contract disputes before a deal as made for this season, with a possible big one looming after 2022. Judge has responded by hitting home runs left and right and in between--and twice on Sunday. It has led to talk Judge actually surpassing Maris' total of 61 home runs, and right now, he is on the cusp of that very number. However, it does seem like the hoopla surrounding Judge's quest has taken a life of its own, even more so than the two times Barry Bonds chased history in 2001 (when he hit 73 home runs), and when he closed in on Hank Aaron's total (which he did surpass).
Judge's 60th home run came on September 20, which kicked off a five-run rally in the bottom of the ninth against the Pittsburgh Pirates; a rally that ended with a walk-off grand slam from Giancarlo Stanton. The week that passed saw him get a few base hits, but also walk a lot in his plate appearances. In fact, on the night that the Yankees wrapped up the AL East, Judge lined out in his first (and only) official at bat, and his following four plate appearances were all walks, though he scored twice. The walks may be grating to fans, but they haven't harmed his batting average (walks, of course, don't count as official at bats).
Judge leads the American League in all three Triple Crown categories: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. While he has HRs and RBIs pretty much in the bag, BA is a close race. I myself am really hoping Judge wins the Triple Crown, because it seems to be the only way that he'll be considered for the American League MVP award. A lot of talking heads want Shohei Ohtani to win it, despite Judge's amazing season, and that is a clear case of anti-Yankee bias. The only way that Judge will finally be respected as the undisputed AL MVP is winning the Triple Crown, because it seems like (possibly) setting the AL record for home runs in a season isn't enough.
Because the Yankees are cemented as the #2 seed in the American League, all of their remaining games are meaningless, with the exception of Judge's quest to surpass Maris and capture the Triple Crown. This Yankees fan is very elated; the Yankees won the division and will have a lot of extra time to prepare for the Division Series. I truly think this could be the year #28 happens, it definitely seems like a lot of things are going in the right direction for the Bronx Bombers.